WATERTOWN — The Watertown Golf Club filed a cross motion for summary judgment Thursday in its legal dispute with the owner of Ives Hill Country Club.
Ives Hill owner P.J. Simao is suing the club and the city in state Supreme Court over leases the city signed with the club in 2000 and 2006 granting the club use of 66 acres of land in city-owned Thompsom Park.
Mr. Simao filed a motion seeking partial summary judgment Jan. 8 based on claims that former Mayor Joseph M. Butler Sr. had a prohibited conflict of interest when he signed the leases, signing one as mayor while also holding an ownership share in the club and signing a second as club president after leaving office. Mr. Simao is seeking to have a judge declare the leases void.
Through Watertown attorney Larry D. Hasseler, the club contends that Mr. Simao’s claims “must fail because they do not make sense.”
“Specifically, Plaintiff would have this Court determine in effect that the City of Watertown could not enter into a lease with Watertown Golf Club Incorporated so long as the Mayor of the City of Watertown or any member of the City Council owned a share of stock in Watertown Golf Club Incorporated,” the motion states. “This would be notwithstanding the opinion of the City Council that such lease was in the best interest of the City of Watertown.”
Legislation enacted by the state in 1983 authorized the city to discontinue use of the 66 acres as parkland and retroactively ratify a 1965 lease between the city and club. Mr. Hasseler’s motion states that the legislation did not limit the duration of the lease and allows the City Council to enter into a lease that it deems “in the best interest” of the city. The motion states that benefits accrued through the lease, including lease payments, property and sales taxes, water revenues and general business activities “are in the best interest of the residents” of Watertown.
The motion states that even if the 2000 lease is declared invalid by the court, the lease was “reaffirmed, modified and readopted” by the City Council in 2006, although the motion does not clarify how a lease deemed invalidated could subsequently be legally amended or renewed.
Since the onset of litigation, the golf club has completed a sale of its assets to developer Michael E. Lundy. It is envisioned that the club’s lease with the city, which currently calls for annual lease payments of $9,318, would be transferred to Mr. Lundy.